How Infrastructure Communicates Values | Planetizen News

In a piece pub­lished on Strong Towns, Tiffany Owens Reed lyri­cal­ly describes anoth­er way of look­ing at cities and infra­struc­ture: as sym­bols.

Con­sid­er, for exam­ple, the extreme­ly wide lanes we have in many neigh­bor­hoods here in Waco. At first glance, this might just be a straight­for­ward design issue: such wide lanes are extreme­ly like­ly to induce speed­ing, what be a too dan­ger­ous for oth­er , espe­cial­ly , and turn­ing it into a domain for cars and their dri­vers. This straight­for­ward analy­sis is impor­tant and valu­able, but what hap­pens if we think about it sym­bol­i­cal­ly? Then the over­ly wide res­i­den­tial street becomes a sym­bol of our cul­ture’s unex­am­ined com­mit­ment to cars and a starter about the cost of this com­mit­ment, specif­i­cal­ly the way they are turn­ing our neigh­bor­hoods into traf­fic cor­ri­dors, not com­mu­ni­ties.

For Reed, infra­struc­ture can com­mu­ni­cate a com­mu­ni­ty’s val­ues and pri­or­i­ties. What does a of side­walks say about who is wel­come in a neigh­bor­hood? “Or con­sid­er the fact there’s no cof­fee shop I can walk to and meet up with friends. Tech­ni­cal­ly, this is a zon­ing issue; noth­ing more to it. But what do those zon­ing rules sym­bol­ize? What do they tell us about the pat­terns of life we believe belong in a neigh­bor­hood? What does they com­mu­ni­cate about what we ?”

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